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Showing posts from April, 2012

The Tallest Building in New York City: A Look Back in Pictures

1 World Trade Center officially became the tallest building in New York City this afternoon when workers placed a steel beam on the 100th floor. 1 WTC reached 1,271 feet, surpassing the height of the iconic Empire State Building. In a gracious gesture, the latter building will be lit up tonight in red, white, and blue to honor this special skyscraper moment.

This look back in pictures from Walking Off the Big Apple charts the growth of 1 WTC through months, seasons, perspectives, and varying weather conditions.




After a delayed start of the entire World Trade Center project, 1 WTC gradually seeped into the visual identity of the downtown Manhattan skyline over the last year and a half. In the fall of 2010, the rising 1 WTC could not even be discerned in the skyline, as nearby buildings such as One Chase Manhattan Plaza (60 floors), AIG Building (66 floors), and 60 Wall Street (55 floors) obstructed views. By the middle of December 2010, 1 WTC had reached the halfway point at 52 floors.

Before May Day, Recalling the Paterson Strike Pageant of 1913

Occupy Wall Street, with the support of several community and university groups, has announced a full slate of activities in New York City for May 1, International Workers' Day. In addition to calls for a general strike, the OWS has announced plans for a "Pop-up Occupation" of Bryant Park, a solidarity march and rally (already granted permits), and a Free University from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Madison Square Park. In light of these activities on behalf of the 99%, I thought it would be instructive to take a look at a similarly spirited event that happened in the city 99 years ago - the Paterson Strike Pageant of 1913.


In the late spring and early summer of 1913, nurse and activist Margaret Sanger, writer Max Eastman, artist John Sloan and his wife Dolly, the Harvard-educated radical journalist John Reed, I.W.W. leader Big Bill Haywood, and others worked tirelessly to organize a pageant in support of striking workers. Over a thousand workers in the silk mill industry had walke…

Watching the Space Shuttle Enterprise from a Hudson River Pier

The Hudson River Park pier near Spring Street, the one with the Holland Tunnel ventilation building at the end, turned out to be a good place to watch this morning's flyover of the space shuttle Enterprise. Riding piggyback on the NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, the shuttle, a prototype that never soared in real space, flew from Dulles to JFK with flyovers over the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks. Shortly after arriving around 10:30 a.m. in New York Harbor, someone on the pier shouted that they saw the shuttle in the distance coming up the Hudson.


New York's Intrepid Museum at Pier 86 will be the eventual home for the shuttle, and those assembled there this morning also got a good look at the future exhibit as it flew by.

The shuttle flew up the Hudson all the way to the Tappan Zee Bridge and then south again.


I was able to get decent pictures of the shuttle while it jetted over the Jersey skyline across the water.


Partners In Preservation Announce the 40 Historic NYC Sites in Community-Based Funding Initiative

Walking Off the Big Apple always supports venturing off the beaten path to explore fascinating sites in the city. Beyond the well-known museums and thoroughfares, great hidden historical treasures are still to be discovered by residents and visitors alike. Many of these sites are tied to the everyday life of their communities, important social institutions such as libraries, schools, churches, cultural centers, and museums about local history. A lot of them are located in parts of the five boroughs underserved by the popular guidebooks. All tell an important story about the city.

At a morning press conference on April 26 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Partners In Preservation, a program of American Express in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced the names of the 40 NYC historical sites that will be the beneficiaries of $3 million in preservation funds. The list follows. All of the selected sites greatly expand our awareness of the living history…

On Washington Mews, a Renovation in Progress

People out walking past Washington Mews, the quaint little thoroughfare north of Washington Square Park, may be wondering what in the world is going on. A home for stables in the nineteenth century and then a studio row for artists beginning in 1916, the Mews certainly accounts for one of the most picturesque street scenes in Greenwich Village. Well, not exactly right now.

NYU is currently converting four buildings along the street as well as upgrading the infrastructure underground, the nearby sidewalks, and the street lighting. Visitors to the city, likely to read about the mews in their tourist guide books, may be disconcerted to find the urban hideaway in such an unappealing state. Residents, too, may look upon the current construction site with raised eyebrows, especially in light of controversies surrounding the university's quest for expansion. In this particular case, however, community and landmark authorities have granted their seal of approval. The renovation just adds…

Dinner and a Movie: Food and Drink Near the East Village Cinemas

Moviegoers attending screenings in the East Village at the Village East Cinema (2nd Avenue at E. 12th) or the Loews Village VII (3rd Avenue and E. 11th) are in luck with convenient food choices before or after the film. This historic area of the city, anchored by St. Marks Church in the Bowery, features a great range of dining and drinking establishments. For vegetarians, Angelica Kitchen is a good choice, or for a fun Italian dinner, John's of 12th Street is just next door. The food innovations of David Chang's Momofuku empire are within easy walking distance, as well as old school Ukranian, modern takes on southern (Redhead), and good burgers (Paul's Da Burger Joint). Cloister Cafe's pretty garden was recently featured on the TV show SMASH.



If the movie calls a for a beer, wander down to E. 7th for a pint at McSorley's or at Burp Castle. Wine drinkers should head north to Blind Pig at E. 14th Street or east to Terroir on E. 12th. For dessert, the venerable Venier…

City Escape: Discovering Local Color in Hudson, NY

Please forgive this post for not focusing on New York City, but we all need to get away from time to time. For quick escapes like this, I like Hudson, New York, an historic river town that's just two hours north of the city by train. There, I can wander quiet streets on the weekdays, listen to a multitude of birds and train whistles and the soft sound of doors opening, and I can enjoy unobstructed views of the Hudson River at sunset. I am having fun there, too.



In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Hudson was associated with the New England whaling community, and it served as home to many prosperous merchants. In the late 19th century and early 20th, Hudson took to the wild side, stimulating vigorous business in over a dozen brothels and fifty bars. After state troopers broke up the vices in the early 1950s, the town languished for a couple of decades before being discovered and renewed. The downtown Hudson Historic District, with over 700 properties in a range of architectura…

25 Things To Do in Chelsea

(revised and updated 2018) The phenomenal popularity of the High Line on the West Side has no doubt introduced many visitors to the pleasures of Chelsea, the multifaceted eclectic neighborhood that stretches out below.

On the west side of the rails, between W. 14th and W. 29th Streets or so, the Chelsea Gallery District is home to hundreds of contemporary art galleries in repurposed warehouses. New luxury residences rise up around these spaces, taking advantage of the stunning Hudson River views. On the east side of the line, the iconic Empire State Building comes into the picture, but closer in, the Gothic Revival outlines of the General Theological Seminary represent the neighborhood's roots in an earlier century.
Chelsea is a remarkable neighborhood bound together by an artistic and visual history, but it's also a community held together by social institutions - schools, historic houses of worship, affordable housing under the auspices of the city's housing authority, …

Tribeca Film Festival 2012: The New York Stories

The Tribeca Film Festival begins today, and following tradition, the 11th iteration of the homegrown festival includes several films that tell stories about New Yorkers. Many of the narrative New York films take on a decidedly youthful coming-of-age theme, either through the drama of romantic breakups or through casting our city's latest stock character, the hipster, into unexpected situations.

The city's cultural life is represented in documentaries about the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the legendary theater director Joe Papp, the PS22 chorus from Staten Island, and the comeback story of a Brooklyn-born musician and former inmate. What follows is a list of feature films in this year's Tribeca Film Festival that prominently showcase New York. Several short films also make ample use of the city.

For information about schedules, theater locations, and tickets, please visit the official website at www.tribecafilm.com/festival/. The festival, which offers a wealth of film…

In Staten Island's Snug Harbor, a Secret Garden

For those who don't get to the island much to look around, the way Staten Island works for tourists is that you take the Staten Island Ferry over there and then get on a bus to where you want to go. Many people, of course, ride the ferry to Staten Island and turn around and come back, but there are many reasons to continue the trip. While waiting for the ferry, you should watch a video inside the Whitehall Ferry Terminal that features many of the island's attractions - among them, Fort Wadsworth, High Rock Park, Historic Richmond Town, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Museum of Tibetan Art, the St. George Theatre, and the Alice Austen House Museum. While watching the video a couple of times, pick an attraction and then pay close attention to the bus number you'll need to take. After arriving at the St. George Ferry Terminal on the other side, the buses are lined up ready to transport people to their destinations on Staten Island.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Gard…

A Walk on the Battery Park Esplanade, and a Ride on the Staten Island Ferry

Warm weather sends many New Yorkers to the shoreline, and the cooling breezes of the water conjure reveries of the sea. As the temperatures climb higher, a stroll along the Battery Park Esplanade and a ferry ride to Staten Island together make for a relaxing walking and boating experience. When I did this combo yesterday, I was so relaxed I almost fell asleep in mid-stride.

A good place to start would be the World Financial Center, perhaps taking in a coffee and something to eat while sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine next to the North Cove Marina. Just looking at the boats docked in the water, including a fleet of sailboats from the Manhattan Sailing School, can set the mind longing for the sea.


Just off the marina to the south, look for the tree-lined double paths next to the water. The Battery Park Esplanade, with beautiful landscaping throughout, makes for a wonderful walk, although the presence of bicyclists and runners can be unnerving at times. Stay on the upper level i…

Waiting for the Carpathia at Pier 54

When the Carpathia arrived in New York at 9:30 pm on the cold and rainy evening of April 18, 1912, the ship first bypassed Pier 54, its home Cunard Line pier, and sailed up the river to Pier 59, the berth for the White Star Line, to drop off the empty lifeboats. Pier 59 is where the Titanic was supposed to have arrived. The Carpathia then sailed back to Pier 54 to let off the booked passengers and the survivors of the doomed ship. Tens of thousands of people gathered around Pier 54 to meet them and to hear the stories of the maritime disaster. A tug boat filled with photographers followed the ship to the pier, and the flashlight of cameras lit up the ship in the night sky to reveal that the decks were crammed with passengers.


The Carpathia had sailed three days in difficult conditions before arriving in New York Harbor, including an initial four-hour detour around the many icebergs in the North Atlantic Ocean. The ship carried 700 passengers and crew, and it had rescued 706 people fr…

One Hundred Years Ago in Bohemia: Greenwich Village 1912

When the ocean liner Carpathia sailed into New York Harbor bearing survivors of the Titanic, the residents of the lower west side neighborhood of Greenwich Village, close to the piers, would have been stirred, like everyone else, by the news of the disaster. While a diverse neighborhood, the Village in 1912 was socially stratified in ways similar to the first class and steerage compartments of the fated ship - upper class socialites on the north side of Washington Square Park and on lower Fifth Avenue, a large Irish contingent in the West Village, and in the South Village, many Italian immigrants. Scattered throughout the neighborhood below 14th Street were new pioneers from elsewhere, some from big cities and others from Smalltown USA. Some escaped wealthy families, while others ran away from the middle class.


Many scholars of Greenwich Village have marked the beginning of the neighborhood's early bohemia, one that long preceded the folk revolution of the 1950s and early 1960s, i…